Respiratory stimulants and sleep periodic breathing at high altitude. Almitrine versus acetazolamide

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1987 Apr;135(4):896-8. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1987.135.4.896.


We studied the effects of almitrine, acetazolamide, and placebo on the hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR), sleep periodic breathing, and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) in 4 healthy climbers. In a laboratory on Denali (Mt. McKinley) at 4,400 m (PB = 440 mm Hg), we used a double-blind, randomized, three-way crossover design. The HVR was measured during the waking state. Periodic breathing and SAO2% were measured during 3-h sleep studies. Almitrine and acetazolamide both increased SaO2% during sleep, although almitrine increased periodic breathing, whereas acetazolamide decreased periodic breathing. The HVR (delta VE/delta SaO2%) was doubled with almitrine (p less than 0.05), but unchanged with acetazolamide. The HVR was positively related to periodic breathing (p less than 0.05). We conclude that periodic breathing during sleep at high altitude is related to the hypoxic ventilatory response, and that acetazolamide is a superior agent to almitrine for ameliorating periodic breathing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetazolamide / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Almitrine
  • Altitude*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / drug effects
  • Random Allocation
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / drug therapy*


  • Piperazines
  • Almitrine
  • Acetazolamide
  • Oxygen